One of the crucial aspects of customer service is effective communication. As in any other field of speciality, customer service has its own symbols and language. Language that is used in casual and everyday interaction can be out of place and even offensive in a customer service environment.


Let`s look at two different situations to see how the same language can have different results depending on the context. Imagine you`re having a casual conversation with your friend and you ask him or her to tell you the time that a particular program will be on that night and your friend responds “I`m not sure. Check the TV schedule”. You probably won`t think twice of it and search the schedule for the information.  Now imagine that you`re staying at a hotel and you ask a member of staff what time the restaurant serves breakfast and he or she responds “I`m not sure, check the schedule”. You`ll probably be taken aback, to put it mildly. In a service environment, the language used becomes important and it needs to convey courtesy, care and concern. Here are some examples of words and phrases that we should avoid when interacting with customers:


“I can`t”

“I don`t know”

“Sorry, that`s not possible”

“That`s not our policy”

Some customers will interpret these phrases as an indication that you or your company are unwilling to go the extra mile to assist them to resolve their needs. That`s not the impression you want to give your customers.



You want your customers to view you as a Problem Solver. The more solutions you provide for your customer, the more valuable you become to them and the more inclined they are to keep doing business with you and your company. Below are the same phrases listed above, with some alternatives that put the focus on solutions.

Phrase                                                                                                            Alternative

“I can`t”                                                                                                       “Here`s what I can do”

“I don`t know”                                                                                            “ I`ll be happy to check on that for you”

“Sorry, that`s not possible”                                                                        “ Here`s what I can do”

“That`s not our policy to give the information over the phone ”                “ Typically/Usually we give that information face to face not over the telephone”

Why not test out some of these phrases over the next few weeks and see how it impacts your customer interactions? Don`t just do it for your customers, do it for yourself. Language has a powerful effect on our psyche. Using positive and solution oriented language also causes a shift in our mindset and opens us up to possibilities. After getting into the habit of using solution language, you will probably find that your attitude naturally becomes more upbeat and positive. Instead of feeling stressed and pigeon holed by what can`t be done, you will seamlessly start to identify ways to solve any perceived “problems”.

The more pervasive this mindset becomes, the more positivity you exude, and the more customers will be attracted to you and enjoy doing business with you and your company. Being a compulsive problem solver is one of the essential skills of an outstanding customer care professional.